European Studies Film Series: Eastern Plays
Wed, February 9, 2011 • 6:30 PM • Mezes Basement, B0.306
Eastern Plays (Bulgarian: Източни пиеси, Iztochni piesi) is a Bulgarian film directed by Kamen Kalev.
Eastern Plays is the story of two alienated brothers, Itso (Hristo Hristov), an artist who is struggling with his methadone addiction, and Georgi (Ovanes Torosyan), a high school student who is dragged into a neo-Nazi gang. The neo-Nazi organization attacks a Turkish family having a walk on the streets of Sofia. Georgi participates in the violence, but Itso witnesses and rescues the Turkish family. The two brothers meet for the first time in years. Georgi, now being asked to participate in larger events, starts to question his implication in the movement, and Itso wonders if the beautiful Turkish girl he saved could be his ticket out from his sad life in Sofia. Only by reuniting will the two brothers be able to assess what they really want from life.
Part of the nascent renaissance in Bulgarian cinema, exemplified most prominently by Stephan Komandarev’s Oscar contender The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner (2008), Kamen Kalev’s new film Eastern Plays offers a much-needed fresh take on the modern Eastern European experience. In its subtle examination of the nature of nationalist and racist sentiment arising from post-Communist stagnation and threatening to pollute disoriented young minds, the film manages to go well beyond its localized context and will strike a chord with anyone who has ever found themselves in a dead end job or felt swayed by the opinions of others.
Eastern Plays is a very timely and important film that tackles a number of difficult social issues particularly relevant in the context of developing post-Communist societies of Eastern Europe. However, the film is much more than that as it tells the story of a lost man finding himself in despair who manages to regain hope and direction in life thanks mostly to his interaction with someone of a culture different from his own – and this gives it truly universal appeal. A special mention goes to Christo Christov, who sadly passed away shortly after filming ended, for his excellent portrayal of Itso.
Highly recommended viewing for anyone able to appreciate a thought-provoking, high quality cinematic experience, and especially for those looking to learn more about modern Eastern European culture and values, Eastern Plays is one film you will not see soon playing at a theater near you if you live in America.The film debuted at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight and went on to win a series of prizes at The Tokyo International Film Festival , Sarajevo Film Festival, Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Warsaw International Film Festival, International Film Festival Bratislava, Sofia International Film Festival